Boise State Senior
40: 4.55 (estimated)
An active defender when he's coming up to defend the run with nice speed. Will throw his weight around and does a good job cutting a runner's legs in space. Does a good job working in medium zones, showing some ball skills to jump routes and break up pass. Does a good job keeping things in front of him when working in coverage.
Undersized tackler that struggles to bring down NFL-caliber backs and receivers. Ducks his head too often and doesn't break down consistently. Will take poor angles to the ball and whiffs on stops on occasion. Has limited speed and range to make plays in centerfield and doesn't have the hips or burst to match up well in man coverage.
Johnson is a smart defender that will make some plays, and doesn't usually give up the big play. But his main issue is his lack of size and how limited he'll be at the next level in run support despite playing with toughness. He is a good special teams player and that will be his chief value to whatever NFL team drafts him. Led the team in tackles each of the past three years that he was a full-time starter. Best year was a junior where he had 91 tackles, 6 pass breakups, and 4 interceptions. Combined for 326 tackles, 12 for loss, 25 pass breakups, 8 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 6 recoveries during his career at Boise State. Also blocked 2 kicks in his career. His listed weight was closer to 195 pounds, and he has seemingly bulked up for the East-West Shrine game where he weighed in at 210 pounds.
Johnson can stick in the pros because he can come in right away and contribute on special teams, and he has enough smarts and toughness that eventually he could be work his way into a starting lineup. But he'll be limited, and while he plays strong safety for Boise State, he is probably better moving to free safety and playing in a scheme that will put him in a lot of Cover-2. He was a playmaker in college, but he'll struggle to do that reliably at the next level. The hope is that once he gets more comfortable in coverage, gets bigger and stronger vs. the run. But he's not going to be trusted guy, and will be more of a stopgap guy. Four or five years down the road, I could see Johnson being an NFL starter, but he wouldn't any better in that role than someone like Erik Coleman.
Johnson has the ability to fill in a niche similar to Erik Coleman in his ability to potentially play both safety spots. But he'd be a reserve here in Atlanta and is not quite a candidate to think he'd be a good option to start down the road. His value would be on special teams where he could be a very good player. He'd likely serve primarily as DeCoud's backup at free safety, but doesn't bring anything more to the table than him, and would struggle to win a competition between the two.
For a team looking for a versatile reserve prospect that can play special teams and be a nice backup, he'd make a nice fifth or sixth round pick. He has some upside to be a starter down the road, but he'll be limited in such a role. Teams should target him for depth instead, and hope that three or so years down the line he can push and compete for a role.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
BALL SKILLS: 3.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.